Going back to college as an adult?


All college information sessions are not created equal—especially if you’re an adult learner pursuing an advanced degree or charting a new career direction. “The more information you have going in,” says Susan Haldeman, Alvernia University’s admissions director for the School of Graduate and Continuing Studies, “The more information you’ll have about a school coming out.”

What’s the right answer? Ask the right questions, counsels Haldeman. Here are some questions every prospective adult learner should be asking, whether it’s at a general overview or an in-depth, program-specific information night:

1. Does your graduate or continuing studies program have a clear learning outcome (i.e., secure a new position, transition into a new field or keep technical skills current)?
2. Who teaches the courses? Do professors provide an in-depth learning experience? Do they emphasize practical knowledge and skills using a real world-based approach?

3. Does the school offer courses that will accommodate a working person’s busy schedule? Do you offer online courses as well as classroom?
4. How long will it take to complete a degree?
5. Are academic advisors and services specifically for adult learners integral to the program? Can they help me custom-tailor a degree to my unique personal needs?
6. What kind of transfer credits do you accept? Will you evaluate transfer credits without obligation?
7. Do you need prior college credits to enroll?
8. How much will my degree cost? How can I finance my education? Is financial aid and counseling available?
9. What kind of support services do you offer enrolled students? Do I receive the same benefits and services as an undergraduate student? Is the campus environment safe? Is there ample parking? Is the campus conveniently reachable via mass transit?
10. How do I apply? When is payment due? Is tuition deferment available?

“The saying that you don’t get a second chance to make a good first impression is equally true for college information sessions,” notes Haldeman. “What you see at an information night is indicative of what you’re going to experience as a student. Ask lots of questions and get solid answers. It will make your school selection much easier.”

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